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Call to cut parking fee for eco-friendly cars

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Call to cut parking fee for eco-friendly cars

A DRIVER has accused city leaders of failing to encourage eco-friendly cars. Dave Walsh drives a Honda Insight hybrid car which runs on both petrol and battery power. He wants a graded parking system introduced in which drivers of environmentally friendly vehicles would pay less. His Honda is cheaper than a diesel and the Government gives £1,000 to everyone who buys one. It drastically cuts emissions. In London, sales are rising rapidly as drivers of the Insight do not have to pay the congestion charge. But so far only a handful of people in Brighton and Hove have a hybrid or IMA (Integral Motor Assistance) car. Mr. Walsh, 42, of Fourth Avenue, Hove, said: “I only pay £50 road tax but I still have to pay £80 for my parking permit, which is 150 per cent of the reduced road fund. “I feel a lot better that I am driving a more ecological car but it annoys me “I am making people’s quality of life better and getting no encouragement.” Mr. Walsh said a grading system should be introduced to make parking cheaper for cars like his than for high-emission 4x4s. He said: “They could balance it out so they weren’t actually losing any money.” The two-seat Honda Insight went on sale four years ago but the only local dealership, where Mr Walsh bought his car, has sold just four in three years. Kevin Booker, sales executive at Collins Honda in Herstmonceux, said: “We are behind the times compared with London, where IMA drivers do not pay the congestion charge and more cars are being sold.” He said the Insight entered the Guinness Book Of Records when it road-tested at 103.5 miles to the gallon compared with about 40 miles for a normal 1.4-litre car. Mr. Booker said Honda did not offer dealers much profit margin on IMA cars but technological advance was bringing prices down. He said: “In the next ten years there will be a lot more people buying WA cars.” A spokesman for Honda said 231 IMA cars had been sold in the UK and London was showing a sharp rise in sales. A spokesman for Brighton and Hove City Council said: “At the present time we do not have any concessions for low-emission, small or electric cars but this is something we could consider as part of the central Brighton review of parking currently taking place.” She said it was council policy to encourage more sustainable forms of transport. Brighton and Hove Green Party convenor Keith Taylor said: “We should as a council be setting an example and a grading system for parking might be a useful way of encouraging people to buy hybrid cars.” Hybrid means the car combines two or more sources of power to propel itself. In this case, there is a petrol engine and a battery-powered electric motor. The motor is recharged during travel. The vehicle is made largely of aluminum and plastic to reduce weight. The engine cuts out when the car is not moving and starts again when the clutch is pressed. by VIRGINIA BRIDGEWATER@theargus.co.uk

07 Sep 2004 18:34

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